[identity profile] let-fate-decide.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] atlantisbasics
recipient: [livejournal.com profile] goddess47
title: bound by the life you left behind
author: [livejournal.com profile] let_fate_decide
rating: R
word count: ~2100
category: gen, but implied McKay/Sheppard
spoilers: "Before I Sleep" explicitly; takes place in early season two.
prompt: (...) when any one or all of McKay, Sheppard, Teyla or Ronon are in the infirmary for at least an overnight stay. (Kinda sorta maybe followed this. Eek.)
summary: The writings guard the entrance to a building the Lehmai never learned to open, unable to without the gene.
a/n: Wow. This took a long to plan out and actually complete, but I'm proud of it, and I hope it [somewhat] meets your expectations. If the plot is not clear to you by the end, I'll be putting in another a/n, so no worries.


The mountains tower against the horizon, their shadows dancing across the valley as the western sun sets, its companion following, slowly, until night finally falls, graceful as ever.

All through the final hours of this day, the Lehmai tell of the times when the Old Ones lived on their small world, and of the writings they left behind, etched into the stone, never to be forgotten.

The writings guard the entrance to a building the Lehmai never learned to open, unable to without the gene.

John watches the wonder bloom, and then begin to wither, in Ramos' eyes. The aged leader's disappointment is evident, though whether it be in never finding true answers or in himself, John doesn't know for sure.

They travel up one of the gentler mountainsides, John at Ramos' side, who guides them with learned ease, and the local ram-like creatures watch with hesitant interest, distrusting but still curious.

The transition between seasons; such a significant presence here, with it's deep claps of thunder in the distance, each echoing, rolling across the valley, the smell of fresh rain so close.

And as heavy raindrops begin to fall from the skies, they reach the Place of Memories, as Ramos calls it with such wonder, such unabashed admiration. The building rests elegantly against the mountainside, its small spires pointing towards the sky, Ancient blues still vibrant after so many millenia. Walking closer, John can feel the Ancient technology reaching out to him, attempting to activate; oh, there -- there, and he feels the lack of power, but still it tries.

From behind, John hears the light ping, ping, pang sounds of Rodney's various devices working, finding the minute traces of energy. Turning around, he watches Rodney's frown deepen, eyes rising and glancing at the building before meeting John's gaze; frustration, hope, exhaustion, all in a single look, and then Rodney focuses on his task again, fingers moving frantically over the touchscreen, hope, hope, hope.

When John looks towards Teyla she smiles at him; apologetic at first, then knowing, trusting.

Ronon stands at their six, eyes still on the building, weary, but he keeps glancing at Rodney as he works, and John sees the want, the need, for hope, for trust.

John turns back to Ramos, who only smiles at him, eyes bright with more hope, and John has to look away, swallowing against the pull of slight panic in his throat. Too soon. I don't even trust myself, not yet. But: this is my team.

The alloys of the Place are cold against John's hand, his palm sliding over the surface, fingers softly tracing the Ancient letters. Rodney stands next to him, concentrating on his tablet, fingers stabbing at the screen near-frantically -- hope, hope, hope for anything, just please, anything -- and then he makes a hm sound, the "that was too simple," one, and places his right hand on the wall, next to John's. John drops his own and watches Rodney press three fingers to three different figures, and then, then, John can feel the Place. He can feel the slow wake from a too-long slumber, an unplanned one.

The tone of this Place, shrill, insistent, urgent-seeming, is different from Atlantis' calm, welcoming, finally, you're here, hum, a comforting presence in the back of his mind, always. This one, though, feels like an intrusion, an unwelcome guest; he ignores his own discomfort, focusing on the task at hand.

But as he thinks the towering entrance doors open, counting on his control over most Ancient technology, he feels wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong; something's not right here.

For a moment, he ignores that as well, taking a step inside, his team right beside him.

Rodney says: "Is it just me, or does it feel a bit funny in here?" just as John's legs give out, arms unresponsive as he attempts to brace himself, P90 smacking against the floor, loud and disruptive in the ten thousand year-old silence.

Ronon reaches out, hands gripping the back of John's tac vest, keeping him from falling forward, "Sheppard, can you hear me? Sheppard---"

Swallow, swallow, gasp, and the panicked need for air is uncontrollable, and no matter how he swallows against the constricting force on his throat, he can't get any in, none, none at all. He doesn't realize that his eyes are clenched shut until he opens them, but the hallway is still dark, too dark, can't see, can't breathe, and then the sluggish ceiling lights blind them all as he frantically tells them on, on, on.

To his right, he watches Rodney raise a hand to his head, casting a worried glance to John, broken on the floor. He looks unsteady on his feet, and John wants to say something, but can't, can't make any sound other than a pitiful whimper come out. But then Teyla puts a hand on Rodney's shoulder, and presses carefully him to the wall, sharing a cautious, frightened look with Ronon.

He lets his head drop, and closes his eyes against the never-ending tone echoing in his ears, against the pain it causes.

Then, a rush of motion, and he knows Ronon's picked him up; he can't feel, though, not at all.

As the sky rushes past above his head, its angry clouds throw harsh rain at them, trying to slow them; maybe even to prevent them from leaving; maybe to keep them from coming back.

Halfway down the mountainside, John's view turns gray, then black; finally, the cruel shrillness is absent.

~

He wakes again as Ronon stumbles to a halt on Atlantis' side of the wormhole, you're here, again, thank you, thank y-- what is the matter? she asks him, worried, her sounds washing over him, but he still can't move, can't slide a hand over her walls, over her hardened skin.

Cold rain slides over his face, hair dripping, flattened against him, obscuring his vision, although it was already blurred. It's just easier to keep them shut.

The announcement of medical emergency in the 'gate room is overwhelming, too loud, and tries to turn his face the other way, but finds it held still.

Carson nods at him when he tiredly opens his eyes again -- the darkness was better, and as soon as he thinks it, Atlantis turns down the overhead lights, so soothing a comfort -- concerned but carefully holding him still. Fingers press firmly against his neck, and John can feel how irregular his pulse is, how it gets steady for a moment before lapsing again.

The infirmary's lights are set low as well, but the medical equipment is just as intrusive as ever, and if he could feel them, the multiple pairs of hands on him would be bothersome, disconcerting.

On the opposite side of the room, John hears Rodney's protestations -- "It's just a fucking migraine, so please go away," but the nurses tending to him ignore the claims, and Rodney protests that, too -- loud and clear.

Then: "Please, he needs you, and so do I--" and John is flattered -- hell, loved -- but no, no, not supposed to tell, but then Rodney catches himself and adds, "Teyla and Ronon, too; he's part of our team. He is our team."

Hours later, intruding hands gone and the feeling returning to his forearms and hands, he overhears Carson saying, "It was some sort of toxin, airborne, and from what I can tell so far, deadly, if he'd been exposed to it for a longer amount of time."

"And Rodney?" Elizabeth. Relief, hesitance, hope.

"Ah, he's fine. He'd be in the same condition if he'd had the natural gene, but apparently his ATA therapy doesn't quite have the same properties as natural-carriers do, as we assumed."

Elizabeth starts to say something else, but John suddenly can't stay awake any longer, and he glances sidelong towards the bed parallel to his, and sees Rodney sleeping soundly, body angled towards John.

//

Atlantis rests on the bottom of the ocean, her shield failing as The Descendants discover her once again; their arrival -- no, no, have to save them -- has caused too much damage.

No failsafes, an inability to prevent both their demises; irreversible; this isn't how it's supposed to end.

The piers fracture first, their spires collapsing, crashing onto the ocean floor, tumbling into each other.

The world quakes; she can't save them, even as the Child finds the gateships, and she uses the last of her Energy to open the doors of the gateship bay, guiding him to the surface.

But he's chosen the forbidden ship, the one the Council ordered destroyed. Janus trusted her to conceal the Hope, and all that it stood for, and she knew someday, no matter how far in the future, it would play a part.

Not the part I sought, she says sadly, watching the ship reappear in orbit as the Child inadvertently activates the Hope.

As her towers collide and her piers buckle, falling inwards, the Descendants in her main spire take their last breath as mortal lungs fill with cruel, unforgiving water.

As her last lights spark and blink before going out, she watches the Child perish.

Despair, grief, defeat, anguish, death.

//

The Lehmai, another race so trusting in their "Old Ones," tell them of the Place of Memories, of how it's nestled so gracefully against the mountainside.

Teyla talks with Ramos, their leader, while they walk up the mountain, summer wind blowing.

Rodney frowns down at his tablet, stumbling as the device pings loudly, and standing next to him, John sees the Ancient text scrolling frantically on the screen, ping, ping, pang.

"Rodney?"

"Yes, yes, I'm looking--"

Ahead of them, Teyla looks over her shoulder, confusion, before turning back to Ramos, reassuring.

They halt not long after, and they stand in front of the Place as Ramos excitedly tells them of its wonders, and of those maybe not even discovered yet. "Will you assist in--" he says before Rodney interrupts; no, no, no, this can't be right.

"What is it?" John asks, and immediately looks at their surroundings, and out of the corner of his eye, he sees Ronon raise his gun as well, stepping in front Teyla and Ramos, leaving John next to Rodney.

But Rodney only steps closer to the building, holding his device out. John watches it flash -- ping, pang, shriek -- before the screen goes black.

"Rodney, what just happened?"

"I don't know, but the--" but Rodney stops, mid-sentence.

John turns towards the building a moment before Rodney does, and drops to the ground a second later.

The sound, so faint at first, but it rises in volume until his vision blurs, until his head aches so violently and he blissfully loses consciousness.

Next to John, Rodney falls to the ground as well, turning to Teyla and Ronon, pleading, frightened, and saying n-- Atlantis.

They misunderstand.

~

Ronon, with Rodney slung over his shoulder, helps drag John through the 'gate, back to Atlantis.

As soon as John's fingers touch the floor, the lights flicker, and the siren sounds.

Two Marines and a technician collapse almost immediately, and when Major Lorne hurries towards them, yelling into his radio, so does he.

~

When all six gurneys roll into the infirmary -- her hallways flickered, and she felt wrong, wrong, wrong -- Carson hurries towards John's, whose eyes have changed to total blackness, a color so absent in Atlantis.

His eyes seem to bleed darkness, and it crawls beneath his skin, traveling up his face, down his neck, disappearing behind his hairline and the collar of his shirt.

As soon as Carson touches him, it crawls up his own arm, and only the Marine nearby keeps him from hitting his head on the ground, but by then, the darkness has journeyed up his neck, closer, closer -- there.

~

When Radek enters the infirmary, he watches the chaos unfold, the nurses in frenzy as Carson lies on the floor, so still, just like John, and Rodney, and Lorne -- dying, soon, my children... again, again, again.

As he turns to flee, attempting a hasty quarantine, he reaches a hand out to close the doors, only by then, it's far too late.

Insistence of the worst kind, unpreventable contagion, absolute power.

~

Elizabeth loses contact with the infirmary not five minutes later, horrifying screams for salvation, protection, come over the city-wide com, and there's nothing any of them can do to save themselves.

"It's spreading, oh god--- it's evolving, changing, so rapidly-- and, and, everyone's gone, there's nothing left---" the last voice had said, before absolute silence.

The silence is worse than the screams, than the pleads, than the nightmare sounds.

She watches Atlantis change before her eyes, watches those left in the 'gateroom, her people, panic in their last seconds of life.

The darkness crawls over her, swallowing her.

We've failed you, she tells Atlantis, one last time. Forgive us.

~

Evolution, such a violent metamorphosis, taking over -- controlling. She's bleeding now, pure blue darkening as it seeps out of her walls, and over the bodies littering the floors.

Her inhabitants die first -- spreading, uncontrollable, nothing she can do, nothing -- and then she, Atlantis, follows.

Her blood -- blackness, darkness, death, finale -- stains the ocean.


a/n 2: If you're still confused, the idea for this plot was alternate realities dealing with the same event, or not even reaching it. The first is "our" reality, the second from "Before I Sleep," and the third is my own [morbid] version. I'm not sure this fits into the prompt at all, but none of my other ideas worked out and/or were really... bad. I hope you enjoyed this anyhow, though, as I'm very proud of this. (By the way, "//" marked the transitions between realities.)

Date: 2007-08-27 09:39 am (UTC)
mf_luder_xf: (SGA McKay)
From: [personal profile] mf_luder_xf
Fascinating! Beautifully written.

Also, you had black eyes. I'm always a sucker for that.

Date: 2007-08-27 05:42 pm (UTC)
ext_1204: (sga)
From: [identity profile] kylielee1000.livejournal.com
This narrative is soooo interesting. I like the italic keywords giving us the emotional cues, sometimes seeming like Atlantis herself, sometimes a watchful Elizabeth, or maybe they are the same thing.

Wow

Date: 2007-08-27 06:14 pm (UTC)
ext_834: (Tango Atlantis Style)
From: [identity profile] krysalys.livejournal.com
So incredibly cool. And I echo what [livejournal.com profile] mf_luder_xf said - black eyes. Dude... awesome.
For some reason apocafic really is getting my creative juices flowing lately. \o/
Heh.
Thanks for sharing this.
-----}-@

Date: 2007-08-27 06:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ozsaur.livejournal.com
Very intriguing! I enjoyed this glimpse into other realities, ones that were only hinted at in canon.

Date: 2007-08-27 09:41 pm (UTC)
goddess47: Emu! (Default)
From: [personal profile] goddess47
*Very* nicely done.... you're right to be proud of this, for it does take the story we know and show its other 'realities' and other lives -- lives not lived or survived. Good job and thanks!

Date: 2007-08-28 03:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thepouncer.livejournal.com
Incredibly cool. The style just builds and builds, and I definitely understood that these were alternate realities, each travelling a different direction.

He wakes again as Ronon stumbles to a halt on Atlantis' side of the wormhole, you're here, again, thank you, thank y-- what is the matter? she asks him, worried, her sounds washing over him, but he still can't move, can't slide a hand over her walls, over her hardened skin.

I am a sucker for Atlantis as a near-sentient entity, especially one that's besotted with Sheppard. *happy sigh*

Date: 2007-08-29 01:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rustler.livejournal.com
This is a neat idea. I did have to read it twice to make sure I wasn't missing something, but that's okay -- a little challenge is good now and then. :g:

Date: 2008-03-23 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thisissirius.livejournal.com
<3<3<3

feel loved, oh fic of L's! FOR I ADORE YOU. see? now it's loved by ONE EXTRA PERSON. it's so heartbreaking and sad but at the same time it's so - oh, everything you say! *is in love*

♥♥♥

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